She barely knew her mother and father. Her brother died on the train going to the foster family. It's 1939 and Liesel, age nine, has arrived at the home of her foster family in a working-class neighborhood. Her foster father is kind and compassionate. Her foster mother is sharp tongued and seems cold.
The Nazi regime is beginning its heartless and arrogant display of power and prejudice. Is anywhere safe? Liesel discovers books. In the land of story she is safe and to build her personal library she begins to steal books as her days take her into the lives and worlds of others in the town.
Her foster father, Hans, teaches her to read and write. When the son of an old friend from World War I shows up, Hans takes him in and allows him to live in their basement knowing the man is Jewish and that they are all risking their lives. The Jewish man, Max, and Liesel become friends. They share their stories.
Narrated by Death, this is the story of Liesel, her relationship with her foster father, the sanctuary of books and the Jewish man this family chooses to hide in their basement.
How do we love? What can be taken away from us?
592 pages 978-0375842207 Ages 12 and up
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahaug.com
"It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."--from the publisher
"It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time."--from the publisher